Today’s opponents have come on a bit since their thuggish start under Mark Hughes, epitomised in last season’s semi final when Andy Todd elbowed Robin in the head. Robin was only on the bench today so would have to wait to get his own back, Tugay and Senderos couldn’t carry on the Swiss-Turkish tiff either. This left us with Savage to do his whirling dervish impersonation for our entertainment, because Blackburn don’t really do football in the accepted sense of the word so entertainment would be rather limited today.
Cygan started at left back again and let me just say here and now that I thought he had a pretty decent match. Not only that, but he, Reyes and Bergkamp were the only one’s brave enough to forgo the team gloves. Arsenal also went for long sleeves while Blackburn could probably only afford the short ones that they turned out in. Pires, on the right, in an early move with Gilberto who provided a tasty back-heel. Dennis nearly got through and some good play by Reyes won a free kick in the opening thrusts. However our opening goal came from a less probable source.
With just four minutes on the clock young Cesc picked up a ball about twenty-five yards out and picked his spot. He hit it low and clean with a bit of bend to pull it back just inside Friedel’s left hand post, an excellent execution for a goal that was passed rather than blasted into the net. 1-0 Arsenal and I suspect Fabregas will now see the odds against him being the first goalscorer tumble. I also suspect that he will begin to find the target on a more regular basis from now on in.
Today’s referee Chris Foy missed a studs up tackle on Gilberto, he missed many late tackles and probably wouldn’t know when someone had left their studs in even if it took out his front teeth. The first duty of a referee is to protect players from injury; in this regard he was inept today. Reyes on a run won a free kick, which Friedel saved low from the inevitable Henry shot and it went for a corner. Kolo got in an apology for a shot that was saved. Blackburn had a decent chance but Lauren saved the day when he cleared a good cross in. Kuqi, who is an Albanian born Finnish lump impersonating a Klingon, had an abject shot that went out for a throw. More poor marking at the back and Kolo was required to block before Sol forced it away for a corner.
Reyes had words with the Klingon. Titi put Rob away on the right and his low driven cross was tipped away by Friedel. A great reverse pass by Silva to Jose who shot wide. Bellamy left Sol for dead before having his shot stopped by Kolo. A great interception by Gilberto put Dennis in with a chance but our Dutchman’s touch was poor. A fine tackle by Cygan on Emerton before once again Bellamy got through us using sheer pace but put his shot come toe-poke wide. Jens was then required to come out well as Blackburn had a brief spell of attacking football, well I say attacking, but what I really mean was that they were in our half for a change.
Henry was tripped and a yellow card flashed at Reid. A low hard ball in from Bergkamp and it looked to me like Kolo, in space, put it wide. Savage hauled down Reyes and just why the twat isn’t booked every twenty minutes is hard to fathom. They were trying to disrupt our rhythm and had succeeded – but you don’t need rhythm for a killer ball and this one came from Rob. He was central and hit an inch perfect, sweetly paced low driven path towards Henry who was steaming in from the left and didn’t need to break his step to sweep it past Friedel with his first touch, low into the far corner. Sweet, very sweet and 2-0 to Arsenal with a minute to go till half time.
There was still time for Gilberto to have a decent shot parried, Blackburn to get caught offside, Lauren who’d played well to head clear and Reid to hit one high and wide from range. Bellamy had been their only threat, there hadn’t been much football but we had witnessed two tasty goals. 2-0 at half time.
The first half was hardly exciting and the second half was less so. Thierry to Dennis is what appeared to be perfect position but it was clipped away for a corner. Sol got in a header from the corner. Reyes got in a shot soon after and Neill left his boot in, Jose stayed down but recovered to limp away. Blackburn got their hopes up from a corner but Pires cleared off the line, with ease rather than a scramble. The Klingon was late on Gilberto. An excellent shot by Reid that went just wide from about thirty yards, I think Jens just about had it covered. A late tackle on Gilberto and Foy’s ineptness continued. A late tackle on Pires, nothing, a late Lauren tackle on Gamst Pedersen and it’s a free kick to Blackburn. Dennis to Henry, almost there.
An appalling decision by the lino gave Blackburn a throw that never was. Lehmann out to clear from Bellamy who was still their sole threat. Blackburn won a corner as Lauren took his turn to receive a whack. Emerton was replaced by the niggly midget Thompson who immediately fouled Henry following some good work by Rob. Dennis was given offside and it was seriously marginal. Tackles were still flying in from both teams as Blackburn had their best chance of the match. A cross from the left by Petersen was just behind Bellamy but he still got in a decent header that clipped the outside of Jen’s post. Kolo superb as he cleared from a long throw.
Reyes on a great run down the line but was held and shoved all the way, but the lino who’d just given Dennis offside, and had earlier given an obvious Arsenal throw the wrong way awarded Savage a free kick. Obviously the officials were working as a well-oiled machine. The match was now controlled passing, from Arsenal, against fast closing from Blackburn. The football was minimal as when Freddie replaced Jose only to be immediately axed by Neill for a yellow card. What was really ridiculous was to see the Scouse midget complain about the booking.
Kuqi was replaced by Dickov who turned well to win a corner that was fired straight out of play. Robin got an eight-minute run out at the expense of his fellow Dutchman and showed two good touches almost immediately. Jens was required to come out of his area to calmly stop Dickov. Foy once more failed to spot a foul on Henry and Thompson fired one across the face of goal at the other end. Le Boss was clearly pissed off with Mark Hughes at this point and was telling him so, but what that was about I have no idea.
Then some Van Persie magic on the far right, a cut inside and a rocket from a fairly narrow angle that slammed home off the far post, this rounded the result off nicely. A brilliant goal by Robin, one of many yet to come I’m sure and 3-0 to the Arsenal.
Three minutes added time saw a handball that didn’t get a yellow card and a free kick from Henry that failed to clear the wall that contained two midgets. So not a classic match but three very fine goals that included one perfect killer ball.
Another three points and nine goals in our last three Premiership games. What more can we ask for?